AAIDD-LA Board Members

Back row left to right: Sonia Mota, Sylvia Melancon, David Van Gossen, Joyce Louden, Doug Ryland, and Shannon Noda

Front Row left to right: Lynda Thiels, Keely Puma, Pat Landry, Kristin Evans and Hilda Trahan Not pictured: Judy Collins

Pat Landry, FAAIDD

2017- 2018 Past President, AAIDD-LA

Pat has been a member of AAIDD since 2004 and was promoted to fellowship status in 2017 during the AAIDD National Conference.  He has served on the Louisiana Chapter Board since 2011 as a Member at Large, VP of Conference, and was voted President in 2016.  He is currently employed as the Director of Quality Assurance and Training Operations for Gulf Coast Social Services in Baton Rouge, LA and has been working in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1999.  His time as a Direct Care Staff and Waiver Service Coordinator developed his awareness and interest in services for people with disabilities and Pat remains a strong advocate for provider agencies along with increased supports for those in need.  

Keely Puma

2017 -2018 Vice-President of Conference

Keely Puma obtained a Master’s Degree in Communication Science and Disorders from Louisiana State University in 2005.  She is a licensed Speech Language Pathologist with 12 years of professional experience and has a special interest in supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Employed by Evergreen Life Services, she assesses, treats, and provides follow up services for disorders of speech, language, and swallowing. As the Therapy Services Director, she also oversees the provision of Physical and Occupational Therapies and the evaluation and fabrication of custom seating systems. Keely has served on the Board of the Louisiana Chapter of AAIDD (American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) since 2013

David Van Gossen

2017 - 2018 Vice-President of 


David works as a Social Services Coordinator at Robinswood School.  He has been a member of AAIDD since 2008.  He has also served on AAIDD-LA Board as Vice President Of Marketing and Member At Large 

Doug Ryland
2017 - 2018 Treasurer
In 1998, Doug began his employment with Evergreen Life Services Inc, in the Central Louisiana Division as a Direct Support Professional.  In 2002, he was promoted to Day Program Supervisor, a position in which he served 86 consumers in a wide array of vocational settings.  In 2010, Doug was appointed Executive Director of Evergreen’s Southeast Louisiana Division, where he supervised services and supports for 62 individuals receiving services through both Community Home and Waiver settings. During the same period, he was elected Treasurer of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, a position he has continued to hold.  In 2013, Doug returned to his hometown of Pineville as Evergreen’s Executive Director of the Central Louisiana Division.  Presently, the Central Louisiana Division supports 136 individuals in various settings to include:  Community Homes, Supported Employment, Day Programs, Supported Independent Living, Respite Services, and the social enterprises of Krafty Kreations and Green Thumbs Greenhouse. Doug’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern State University, as a Cum Laude graduate, and his Master of Education degree from Northwestern State University, as a Summa Cum Laude graduate.   

Shannon Noda

2017 - 2018 Secretary

Kristin Evans

AAIDD-LA Coordinator

Kristin Evans received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a focus in Child Welfare from Northwestern State University, Natchitoches La, in 2005.  She worked several years for La Department of Children Services in Foster Care and Home Development programs until she shifted her focus to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities.  Kristin transferred to La Department of Health and Hospitals in 2009 and joined the Waiver Services Department in 2010 where she helped coordinate services and served as liaison between Central Office and Support Coordination and Waiver Office during the restructuring of Waiver Services and delivery.  Kristin has also worked at Pinecrest Supports and Services Center in the Therapeutic Riding Program.  Kristin currently fulfills the Social Work contract at OakRidge Community Home and is the Coordinator for AAIDD – Louisiana Chapter.  

Sonia Mota

2017 - 2018 Vice-President of Marketing

Sonia earned her Master's of Counseling Psychology Degree from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 2001.  She began working with children from ages 3 to 12  that had a dual diagnoses of Psychiatric and Intellectual disorders in 1998 while obtaining her Master's degree.  She moved to Louisiana in 2004 and began working at North Lake Supports and Services Center with adults with dual diagnoses.  She moved into the private sector with Evergreen Life Services in 2012 and continues to serve people with both intellectual and  psychiatric difficulties.  She became a board member of AAIDD-LA in 2016. 

Judy Collins

2017 - 2018 Member at Large

Judy Collins is the current Director of Staff Training and Organizational Development at Pinecrest Supports and Services Center. She joined the staff in August of 2014.  She has served as an ad hoc  Board member for the Louisiana chapter of AAIDD since 2016.  She has been involved in the field of Developmentally Disabilities since childhood having family members diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and autism.  She pursued her undergraduate degree in the field of Developmental Disabilities graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Kent State University in Ohio.  From 1994 until 2003 she served primarily as a certified teacher in the field at  elementary to high school levels.  Her roles began to change through acquiring skills from the University of Michigan Dearborn and Eastern Michigan University. She served 4 years as a compliance monitor developing and administering corrective action plans and quality improvement measures for the school district.  Prior to relocating to Louisiana she served on the transition team for students needing post-secondary services upon graduation from high school in addition to teaching. She continues her dedication in the field providing training and educating to direct care staff and professionals at Pinecrest.

Dr. Sylvia Melancon

2017-2018 President

Dr. Sylvia Caillier Melancon has a Doctorate of Philosophy in Human Resource Development from Louisiana State University (LSU), and Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Psychology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL).  Dr. Melancon currently works as a program manager in the Education and Training section within the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities.  She has been a board member of AAIDD-LA since 2013, and also serves on the Louisiana Disability Summit Foundation Board of Directors and the Louisiana Association of Training and Organizational Development Board of Directors. In addition to serving professional organizations, she has also served as a member of several community organizations including the Junior League of Baton Rouge, the YWCA of Greater Baton Rouge Board of Directors, Capital Heights Neighborhood Association Board of Directors, the Big Buddy mentoring program and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Acadiana Board of Directors.

Lynda Theils

2017 - 2018 President-Elect

Lynda Thiels graduated from Louisiana College in 1968 with a BA in Sociology. She began her career with Region VI Child Welfare and services to children and adolescents.  She began supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with her move to the Social Services Department at the Louisiana Special Center in 1978. She worked at St Mary’s Training School for approximately 20 years as a social worker, QMRP, and later as assistant administrator. In 2000, she moved to Pinecrest Supports & Services Center.  She retired from Pinecrest in October 2014 as the Director of Training and Organizational Development.  She is now the Social Services Consultant for Colwell Interests.  Ms. Thiels career has spanned approximately 46 years.  She has been affiliated with AAIDD since 1981.  She has served on the Board, several times—including 2 terms as President, this is her 2nd term as VP of Training, and she has served as VP of Conferences.   Ms. Thiels is included the World Wide Who’s Who Registry of Executives, Professional and Entrepreneurs, 2015-2016 Edition.  She also qualified for inclusion in Worldwide Publishing’s Prestigious Roster of Top Female Executives.

Dr. Joyce Louden

2017 - 2018 Member at Large

Dr. Louden earned her Ph.D., in Social Psychology from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1979.  She currently work for the State of Louisiana as the Director of Education and Training for OCDD.  She has a long history working with AAIDD - LA and has served various positions on the board.

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